Teamsters establish a beachhead at XPO

July 22, 2021

John Bendel


Drivers and dockmen at XPO Logistics terminals in Miami and Trenton, N.J., have ratified contracts with the Teamsters Union. It’s the first time the Teamsters have established representation at XPO –  one of the top three largest LTL carriers and the third-largest for-hire carrier of any kind in the nation.

Both terminals combined represent the tiniest portion of XPO’s 50,000 employees in the U.S., but the contracts are significant nonetheless. XPO’s LTL operation began with its 2015 purchase of Con-way Freight, which owed its very existence to being nonunion.

Originally a group of regional carriers, Con-way was launched by LTL giant Consolidated Freightways in 1983. Consolidated, a Teamster carrier, was struggling in the new world of trucking kicked off by deregulation three years earlier. It had become clear to Consolidated management that the days of Teamster LTLs were coming to an end. In fact, the company staggered along for almost two more decades with decreasing business and dilapidated equipment until it finally died in a 2002 bankruptcy – the third-largest bankruptcy in history at the time. Meanwhile, Con-way grew.

According to two Teamster news releases, the new XPO “contracts include ‘just-cause’ protections, a grievance process, successorship language, job protection language and retirement protections, among other improvements.” Neither news release refers to wages. However, Greg Chockley, national campaign coordinator for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in Washington, D.C., said the contracts did include incremental wage increases, though he downplayed their importance. He said there is not a substantial wage differential between the Teamsters in Miami and Trenton and the XPO’s nonunion workers elsewhere.

“It’s a beginning,” he said, pointing out that the contracts are only for a period of two years.

Read more: XPO delivers injustice, unions say, and they may have a point

The drivers and dockworkers at Miami had voted for Teamster representation in December 2014. Workers in Trenton voted for representation in April 2017, the news releases said.

“XPO has delayed negotiations, broken labor laws and mistreated workers, all in its attempt to deny workers their federally protected right to form their union and negotiate a contract,” the Trenton news release said.

The contracts call to mind a massive Teamster effort in 1995 to organize drivers and dockmen at Overnite Transportation, the largest, nonunion LTL at the time. The Teamsters ultimately failed to achieve a contract despite wins in Kansas City, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and St. Louis. Ironically, Overnite was purchased 10 years later by UPS, renamed UPS Freight and brought into the Teamsters without a fight. UPS Freight was recently sold to TFI International of Montreal, which has renamed the carrier TForce Freight. LL

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John Bendel is Land Line’s contributing editor-at-large. A former trucker, former editor at National Lampoon and two trucking magazines, John is an author, photographer, and freelancer. His work has appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, and many U.S. newspapers.